Meditation I actually love doing

I’ve tried many types of meditation to calm my ever restless mind and to… emmmm… be a good person who meditates. I know, I know, that’s not the way to do it but I did it anyway. And then, I no longer remember how, I stumbled across Jessica Snow. She is a Los Angeles based meditative storyteller and energetic alchemist – to quote her – and a magic maker who made me love meditation.

The thing is, she takes me right to the source of my own imagination, to places inside myself I didn’t even know exist. Her guided meditations are like ingenious daydreams where I connect not with just myself but with nature. And what I am always reminded during those journeys is that in nature everything is as it should be. It’s only when we (or me) interfere with that natural order that things get messy or weird.

I’m not even going to try and type down the adventures I’ve had while listening to her on my headphones. I’m just going to say that she is good. Really really good.

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Above: A treasure box full of objects that I collected near the Arctic Ocean – each piece is perfect just as nature intended.

Life as it is

Summer, oh summer. It was a bit strange to surrender into doing nothing. By nothing I mean just being and enjoying ordinary life as it is, sans any special projects. But now it’s been three weeks and I’ve taught my son to eat by himself, read a few books, baked a delicious carrot cake, taken sweaty cycling rides in the woods, and visited many new neighborhoods and playgrounds in my home town. That’s about it.

Next week my little boy starts daycare and I go back to work in my new studio nearby. I have a few projects lined up and a strong feeling that something completely new is bubbling under. Exciting times!

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Above: This morning in our kitchen

House of art and magic

My friend Maritta is a sculptor, painter, and a spiritual being. Her home and greenhouse atelier are both filled with beautiful objects, charming energy, and magical light. I visited Maritta’s house a few days ago and when I saw her beautiful flower arrangements, I had to dig out my camera.

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Photography: Laura Iisalo

A portrait of a dog

I’m on holiday. That means that I’m not working on any commissions in July because I’ll be reading, painting, playing with my boys, and chilling. I just dug out these two paintings from last summer: portraits of our two dogs. They turned out so bad that I think they are quite successful. That’s the thing – and it’s not the first time I write this – mistakes are good. Daring to produce stuff by trial and error is great.

This is kind of sad but looking back it feels like the second I graduated in arts school I lost a big chunk of my creative force. I wanted to be established and professional, and I succeeded in it too. But I lost something really really important: the playful side of me that just wants to create out of curiosity, because drawing and painting makes me feel like myself.

But now, finally! I feel like I’m out of that horrid rut, back to enjoying doing stuff just for the sake of it. That feels really good.

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Above: Lulu and Jekku, 2018

Printmaking, part 2

Here are some more photos of the printmaking workshop I took part in a while ago. I had to revisit an old subject – the kneeling, screaming women – to get it out of my system.

I have a fascination about studios and workspaces, and it’s a shame that people usually only see the end-result – the finished artwork – when the process and the surroundings are just as relevant and interesting. All those paint splatters, tubes and stains. Oh my.

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More self-creation

I spent one month without sourcing inspiration. That means no blogs, no social media, no Pinterest, no lifestyle magazines. I spent that time painting, reading books, trying printmaking, writing tanka poems and my blog, and just being. I also traveled to Holland and was inspired by the dunes in Den Haag, cheesy omelettes and beautiful old tiles.

I did this because I am addicted to the things listed above. I could just daydream looking at other people’s beautiful homes, art they create, and the lives they live. But I’ve noticed that for the sake of my own well-being I rather live my own life in my own way than let outside expectations influence my daily choices. I also tend to want more things when I see what I don’t have. But I don’t really need anything.

I’m not going to completely abandon the things mentioned. But I’m going to try and enjoy looking at beautiful stuff only occasionally, to relax and get a break. Not to replace self-creation. Let’s see how that goes.

Printmaking, part 1

I just spent a few afternoons in a printmaking workshop led by artist Pirjo Kankkonen. I was faced with my impatience yet remembered once again how my work (controversially) is often about trying to achieve something flawless when it’s the imperfection that makes stuff interesting.

For that same reason my first subject was myself. I’m trying to figure out who I am and what I look like instead of how I would sometimes like to be seen as.

I made four different versions and ended up liking the actual plate more than the prints.

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Milla <3

A while ago I had an idea of a new book about motherhood. I wanted to photograph different kinds of mothers with their children, and have an open discussion about what it is to be a mother, how it affects identity, daily life and the relationship with oneself.

I did a test shoot with Milla, a super inspiring woman, artist, and mother to little Unto. I applied for a couple of grants and contacted a few publishers but that came to nothing. After some serious pondering I decided to let this project go. But here is Milla with Unto. It was a pleasure to meet them both.

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Den Haag

I just spent a week in Holland with my family. Our first stop was The Hague – or Den Haag as I prefer – where we rented a beach house near a large nature reserve. Not many people know that Den Haag is a great place for a beach holiday but it is! The weather was a bit chilly when we visited but that was fine – instead of swimming in the sea and barbecuing we spent our days cycling around the beautiful dunes and visiting the surf style beach restaurants nearby.

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Tanka x 2

I wrote a few tanka poems just for fun, to get out of a word rut. I ended up quite liking them! Here is my attempt to translate them while maintaining the syllable count:

The two of us here,

in this world – once more,

together, alone.

It’s me, missing you my love,

when you are right next to me.

Towards the darkness

for so long I walked alone.

I hit the bottom.

And woke up. Light over there.

To it, I now surrender.

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*I realized now reading these that I miscalculated the syllables in the last line of the second poem. Oh well.

Less inspiration

I’m that type of a person who is used to (out)sourcing inspiration – a lot. I’ve always loved magazines, blogs and Pinterest, visual stuff that feeds my mind. I don’t think that’s such a good thing.

Looking at too many ‘inspirational’ photographs, artworks and objects tends to dilute my inner creativity and then eventually I start to feel like everything has been done already, and that can feel very discouraging.

Not cool.

I am tempted to have a break from it all. Turn off my iPad for a month and step away from the stuff that overfills my mind and robs away the time that I could spend creating rather than planning on doing so.

Let’s see what one uninspirational month brings along.

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Above: Stuff that surrounds me

The non-plan

This is what I’ve noticed: to think that a creative outcome could be planned ahead is foolish. That is not how creative process works. It works like this: you pick up a pen/paintbrush/camera, and you start from somewhere, nowhere, anywhere. And then you watch the magic happen. The end-result: unknown.

I’ve let myself go loose, letting go of the control lately. Like this:

Here I am,

Easter feels like forever.

Sound of silence, sound of peace.

This feels like nonsense,

but I have to try.

This poem of mine,

poem of freedom.

It’s hard to accept that not everything is great,

that nonsense has its place,

and what a place that is.

When did I start taking life so seriously,

when did I lose that sense of play,

play that is a great joy.

Yes.

Just like that, word after word. Embarrassing maybe – especially if you take yourself and your work too seriously – and definitely not what I intended when I started typing, but this so called poem opened a gate, and something else will come out of it. Perhaps this could be applied to most things in life.

To be a mother

Last year I became a mother to little Taiko. At 37 I was relatively old but it still happened pretty quickly. I used to think that I would be happy just working, traveling, experiencing life without children. And here we are, me and him, and in these past ten months we have become a great team.

Before Taiko was born, a friend of mine told me that life doesn’t change that much after having children. I have to disagree because life really does change – hello nappies, restless nights, and just generally looking after a little human being – but I somehow know what she means. I feel that I’m still the same me, even more so. With children there’s no space for faking. Becoming a mother has added a layer to my identity. I’m discovering a new, softer side of me.

Sometimes I’m exhausted but I’ve been more tired before. When I was younger I used to party too much, then work too much, or trying to achieve something with force that was just too much. I guess I’m one of those people who don’t always recognize their limits. Having a little baby staring at me has forced me to pause. This is probably the first time in my life that I don’t compare myself to others or feel inadequate.

I’m proud to be a working mama. Work feels more meaningful now. It feeds my little one and is another source of purpose for me, something that I don’t take for granted (anymore).

I never completely trusted that I could or would be a mother and life could have turned out differently. But I am a mother and I love it. Every day my heart melts a little bit more.

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Above: Me and Taiko in September 2018

Remains

Two years ago me and my man bought an old van, made it into our contemporary home and traveled across Finland and up to the Arctic Ocean with our two dogs.

I have lots of photos from our trip – and I may come back to this – but one is my favourite. It was taken on a very small island somewhere near Alta where there were no people, just a herd of reindeers and us.

I took the photo but by man spotted it first; remains of a little reindeer calf resting on a bed of moss and flora.

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Above: Remains, 2017

What inspires me right now

My man He spends hours each day photographing still lifes made of dolls, stuffed birds, half-dead flowers, oranges, and all sorts of ever day objects. I admire his endless imagination and uniqueness – he doesn’t source inspiration anywhere but inside his own head. The plan is to build a website and an Instagram account for him when our boy goes to daycare and we have a little more time. No rush.

My son He is now nearly 10 months old and super energetic and curious to the point of getting irritated when he doesn’t get what he wants or if there isn’t enough stimulation for his little brain. My life has changed a lot since becoming a mother and I just don’t have so much time to obsess over things that don’t even really matter.

Our home I’m inspired by what I see around me everyday. We are not Marie Kondo converts, we love stuff. Not for the sake of having stuff but because it’s interesting to look at it. And by it I mean paintings, books, colourful rugs, old furniture, plants, and obscure objects. I just bought a new painting, and we also purchased a deer’s skull and a stuffed dove. Our home is starting to reflect our inner worlds combined. And I have come to realize that great clothes can have a big impact on how I feel and I refuse to feel bad about that (loving clothes).

Spring The first time spring sun appeared I felt like newly born. Only after the winter was gone I realized how long and dark it was. Spring sun means better photos too.

Ink I used to paint with ink a lot when I was studying and then forgot about it for years. I’ve slowly started to practice my strokes again.

Old times I feel like everyone is so goodie good these days. Yoga, green juice, athleisure gear, good vibes only, blah blah blah. Yeah I’m into feeling good too but I miss old-times when people had the balls to show a little edge at least. Things just seems so polished (or boring?) now.

Art I feel that art is about the only thing (and journalism perhaps) that doesn’t have to please anyone – or so it should be. I’ve only now started to appreciate art for being unapologetic in that way. When I was younger I didn’t quite get it and I’m still learning. I’m learning to express myself and looking for ways to make myself heard and seen truly and I feel that art is the way. I’m actually happy to be a beginner.

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Above: Practicing my strokes, 2019